Explaining the ending of a Charlie Kaufman film is about as easy as explaining quantum physics. His two previous directorial works (Synecdoche, New York and Anomalisa) were subject to much speculation about what his true intent could have been, and that’s what makes them so great. But I’m Thinking of Ending Things makes those movies look simple by comparison.
If you’ve finished Kaufman’s latest film (streaming now on Netflix) and are still utterly lost, there is some help in the form of the film’s source material and main inspiration: the 2016 novel of the same name by Iain Reid.
Warning! Major spoilers for I’m Thinking of Ending Things ahead.
I’m Thinking of Ending Things the film ends the same way many musicals end: a big passionate closing number. The song, “Lonely Room,” is from Oklahoma!, the musical discussed and depicted in multiple scenes. However, movie fans won’t recognize it, as it was omitted from its film adaptations. It’s the song Jud, the villain of Oklahoma! sings as he realizes how lonely he truly is.
It’s a beautiful song, with lyrics specifically referencing dreaming of being with a woman but waking up disappointed he’s all alone, but Jake singing it doesn’t exactly provide a satisfying ending. The actual satisfying ending goes by almost unnoticed minutes earlier.